Best Fakeout Ever
Matthew is alive! Long live Matthew! Never have I been so glad to be fooled by what was, in retrospect, an obvious soap red herring. I cried buckets of tears over Matthew’s (Eddie Alderson) death on the pre-Thanksgiving episode of “One Life To Live.” It contributed to the Thanksgiving malaise that I, and every other ABC soap fan, experienced thanks to last Wednesday’s announcement that there would be no online continuation of OLTL or “All My Children.” Friday, January 13, Llanview will disappear. It seemed like kismet, like comatose Matthew’s narration was the voice of the show itself, bidding a loving farewell before stoically accepting that it was its time to go.
Then in Monday’s episode, as he flatlined, the doctors rushed in, got his heart started, and he woke up. I cheered.
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/One-Life-to-Live/97348/2171651687/Mon%2C-Nov-28%2C-2011/embed?skipTo=153 580 476]
It was the narration that sold me on Matthew’s death. As an experienced soap fan, I know that the vast majority of end of the episode medical calamities turn out to be false alarms. But Matthew declared himself dead. So I believed him, even though it would have meant that the show was having Matthew die without ever learning that Destiny (Shanelle Edmonds) was pregnant with his child, which would have been a huge storytelling failure. The knowledge that the show is ending, and that Alderson did not sign a contract for the online version, made Matthew dying seem like a genuine possibility. Indeed, the slim silver lining in the unjust, premature demise of television’s best daytime soap is that there is true suspense. There are not many spoilers. Any character played by an actor who did not join the on-line OLTL could die. It’s what watching TV used to be like before the internet. If only it could be like this forever, instead of just the next seven weeks.
Say It Ain’t So, “General Hospital”
Last week, “General Hospital” announced that Kimberly McCullough was leaving the show. Is Robin’s exit storyline going to be her developing fullblown AIDS and dying? That’s what the closing scene of Tuesday’s GH seemed to imply. Robin delivered a monologue about how much she hated keeping secrets from Patrick (Jason Thompson) and how she would not be around when a cure for AIDS was found. Robin was hurt when she was attacked my Lisa. Could the minor injuries she sustained have created serious problems because of her HIV status? As determined as GH is to depress its audience, would the show really go there?
For the past 15 years, Robin has shown that it is possible for people who are HIV positive to lead a full, active, healthy life with proper treatment. While treatment can fail or have severe side effects, there is no way that Robin, who is a doctor after all, would not be on top of any problems and get her medication adjusted immediately. Robin’s battle with HIV is one of the show’s signature storylines. It’s more than a plot. It’s a social statement and an integral part of the show’s history. Unlike OLTL possibly killing off Matthew, who did kill someone before he got injured, Robin is a true heroine. She is one of the few characters on GH that has a sense of right and wrong. For her to die gratuitously tragedy would be to squander one of the few elements of classic GH that is still a part of the show.
Dr. Marlena Evans: America’s Coldest Grandmother
“Days of Our Lives” Marlena (Deidre Hall) has never been one of “my” characters. I recognize that for many people she is DOOL but I don’t connect with her in the same way that I do with “The Young & the Restless’s” Nikki Newman, or “All My Children’s” Erica Kane. So, I am bracing myself for the backlash from Team Marlena, but since her return to Salem, I have found Marlena to be a major ice queen. She seems cold and smug even when she is with her family members who she purports to love. Tuesday, Will (Chandler Massey), her grandson who allegedly e-mailed her every day while she was in Europe, reached out to her for help. The audience knows that Will is reeling from seeing his mother, Sami (Alison Sweeney), having sex with her ex, E.J. (James Scott). Every fan who reads spoilers also knows that Will is gay. Here is how Marlena, a psychiatrist, treated her grandson.
1) She looked perturbed that he called her “grandma” in public. He quickly corrected himself and addressed her as “doctor.”
2) She mocked him for having a typical college student’s appetite by saying, “Hummus not good enough for you? You want the baby food?” (That line was so weird I wonder if it was an inside joke that should have ended up on the cutting room floor, especially since there was no hummus or baby food in evidence. Maybe Marlena is now referring to her signature dish, popcorn, as “baby food.”)
3) When he gathered the courage to open up to her, saying, “Can I ask you a question?” she corrected his grammar like he was a six year old asking his teacher for a bathroom.
Her actual advice was good. She assured Will that he was not doomed to have terrible relationships like his mother and that his uncertainties about his feelings for his girlfriend were normal. But it was delivered as if he were her patient, not her grandson. If Marlena suspected that Will was uncertain about his sexual orientation, or that he was keeping a secret about Sami, Hall’s performance did not indicate that. She seems like a robot attempting to mimic the behavior of a loving matriarch, rather than the real deal. If this were the old DOOL, that would actually be a possibility. Granted, Marlena is under a lot of stress. The love of her life was just sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit. But can’t she muster up a little bit of warmth for the confused young man who dotes on her?